Record levels of rain followed by landslides like Johnsons Landing, Fairmont Hot Springs and even the small slide in Thrums made national news and were among several factors resulting in a serious decline in early summer tourism.
“It does impact everyone because they all shop and work in the area,” said Dianna Ducs, executive director of Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism. “Short term it is a hard setback, but long term things will turn around and people will start to see our promotions and see that the weather is nice, everything is safe and it should be a vacation destination.”
Ducs said numbers for June were higher than what they had seen last year.
“We have some data from all over the visitor’s centres around the Kootenay Rockies and that covers 17 different centres in the East and West,” she said. “June was good, better than last year, but only by a per cent or two so it was relative.”
While Ducs said it was unclear what likely caused the decline, the numbers showed a serious decrease in visitors to Nelson and the area.
“If we start looking at July, if we look at Nelson we were down 11 per cent,” she said. “Kaslo was down 19 per cent and Kootenay Rockies in general was down 18 per cent. Nelson is looking good comparatively.”
But with sun returning to the West Kootenay, so are the tourists and the Nelson and District Visitor’s Centre has seen record numbers in the first two weeks of August.
“Based on the landslide which was a horrible tragedy and with the rainfall, there was a lot of hesitation from guests. However things have hit us really strong in August,” she said. “The visitor’s centre had one of the busiest days it ever had here in Nelson in early August. We are anticipating the tourists keep coming through and the sun is shining.”
Ducs isn’t leaving things to hope and chance though, Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism has launched several advertising campaigns to get the word out about the area.
“We actually did a social media campaign and pushed it out to as many locations as we possibly could to try and get people to see the photos of the sun shining here and everything is moving forward. Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival happened, Shambhala is happening and markets are going on,” she said.
“We also did online and print campaigns throughout Southern British Columbia and Southern Alberta. We hit really hard there for the last week of July and the first two weeks of August. We’re pushing for the summer, but we are hoping people will also come in September and October because it is absolutely gorgeous here through the fall. That was a second reason to do those campaigns.”
They are also aiming a third advertising campaign at Spokane.